Complete mitochondrial genome sequence of a Middle Pleistocene cave bear reconstructed from ultrashort DNA fragments


Material Information

Complete mitochondrial genome sequence of a Middle Pleistocene cave bear reconstructed from ultrashort DNA fragments
Series Title:
Dabney, Jesse
Knapp, Michael
Glocke, Isabelle
Gansauge, Marie-Theres
Weihmann, Antje
Nickel, Birgit
Valdiosera, Cristina
García, Nuria
Pääbo, Svante
Arsuaga, Juan-Luis
Meyer, Matthias
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Ursus ( local )
Dna ( local )
Ursus Deningeri ( local )
Denisovan ( local )
Pleistocene ( local )
Mitochondrial Genome Sequence ( local )
serial ( sobekcm )


Although an inverse relationship is expected in ancient DNA samples between the number of surviving DNA fragments and their length, ancient DNA sequencing libraries are strikingly deficient in molecules shorter than 40 bp. We find that a loss of short molecules can occur during DNA extraction and present an improved silica-based extraction protocol that enables their efficient retrieval. In combination with single-stranded DNA library preparation, this method enabled us to reconstruct the mitochondrial genome sequence from a Middle Pleistocene cave bear (Ursus deningeri) bone excavated at Sima de los Huesos in the Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain. Phylogenetic reconstructions indicate that the U. deningeri sequence forms an early diverging sister lineage to all Western European Late Pleistocene cave bears. Our results prove that authentic ancient DNA can be preserved for hundreds of thousand years outside of permafrost. Moreover, the techniques presented enable the retrieval of phylogenetically informative sequences from samples in which virtually all DNA is diminished to fragments shorter than 50 bp. Trace amounts of DNA can occasionally survive the decomposition of organic matter for long periods of time after the death of an organism. However, the retrieval of these ancient DNA molecules is severely impeded by their small size. DNA fragmentation is at least partly driven by depurination (1, 2), a continually occurring process. It is thus predicted that the degree of DNA fragmentation increases with sample age. This correlation has, in fact, been established in a recent study that analyzed samples of different ages from the same archeological sites (3), but the correlation vanishes in comparisons across different sites (4). The important role of environmental conditions, especially temperature, in DNA preservation is well recognized and reflected—for example, in the concept of thermal age (5). Unsurprisingly, permafrost environments have yielded the oldest credible records of DNA survival, including short stretches o

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
This object is protected by copyright, and is made available here for research and educational purposes. Permission to reuse, publish, or reproduce the object beyond the bounds of Fair Use or other exemptions to copyright law must be obtained from the copyright holder.

USFLDC Membership

University of South Florida
Karst Information Portal

Postcard Information



Download Options


No images or PDF downloads are available for this resource.

Cite this item close


Cras ut cursus ante, a fringilla nunc. Mauris lorem nunc, cursus sit amet enim ac, vehicula vestibulum mi. Mauris viverra nisl vel enim faucibus porta. Praesent sit amet ornare diam, non finibus nulla.


Cras efficitur magna et sapien varius, luctus ullamcorper dolor convallis. Orci varius natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Fusce sit amet justo ut erat laoreet congue sed a ante.


Phasellus ornare in augue eu imperdiet. Donec malesuada sapien ante, at vehicula orci tempor molestie. Proin vitae urna elit. Pellentesque vitae nisi et diam euismod malesuada aliquet non erat.


Nunc fringilla dolor ut dictum placerat. Proin ac neque rutrum, consectetur ligula id, laoreet ligula. Nulla lorem massa, consectetur vitae consequat in, lobortis at dolor. Nunc sed leo odio.